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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Dem Revolt Over Obama Tax Compromise At Boiling Point

Neon Tommy |
December 8, 2010 | 12:10 p.m. PST

Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Congressional Democratic anger over President Obama’s tax deal with Republicans continues to boil over with some in the president’s own party now trying to openly sink the bill.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats, has emerged as the most vocal leader in an attempt to rebuff the president’s compromise plan which extends Bush-era tax breaks to America’s wealthiest elite for another two years.

In a daisy chain conference call Tuesday night, Sanders pleaded with thousands of grass roots Democratic activists to do what they can to block passage of the bill in congress.

Sanders, though among the most liberal on Capitol Hill, is hardly alone. "I'm not sure this bill can pass in this form in the House of Representatives," Representative Chris Van Hollen said in an interview on MSNBC. Van Hollen is a key party figure who headed last November’s Democratic nationwide congressional campaign effort.

Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday to try to convince enough of them to support the tax plan.  He’s got a tough slog in front of him if one considers the reports coming out of closed-door meeting Tuesday night between President Obama and the House Democratic leadership.

Politico reports:

House Democrats railed against President Barack Obama's tax cut deal with congressional Republicans in a closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday night, even as there were signs that the White House could pick up enough support for the package to win enactment. Speaker after speaker expressed frustration at the president's acquiescence to Republican demands for a multi-year freeze on the rates for top income in exchange for an extension of unemployment insurance and a basket of Democratic-favored tax breaks, according to several Democratic sources.

On Wednesday morning, powerful House Democrat Barney Frank (D-Ma) categorically said he would vote no on the House floor when the tax compromise comes up for consideration.  Not one member among the entire ten person all-Democratic Massachusetts delegation to the House has yet to embrace the bill.

Representative Bill Delahunt, a Democrat from Quincy, and Representative Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, have both signed onto a letter protesting the compromise. “I don’t believe that caving in to the Republican position is in the best interest of the American people right now,” Lynch said last night in a statement. He said he is “inclined to vote against” the package.

“I’m not convinced,” said Representative Richard Neal, a Springfield Democrat and top member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We’re paying a price for pushing the issue past the election.” He said he hadn't made a firm decision on how to vote but said, "Count me as a skeptic."

President Obama has passionately argued that he had no choice other than to make the compromise saying that ordinary Americans were being held “hostage” by intransigent Republicans who vowed to block any deal if the tax cut for the wealthy was not extended.  If no deal is cemented by December 31, the entire package of Bush-era tax cuts would expire and all Americans would be subject to an approximate 10% increase in federal income taxes.

The outlook for the bill remains cautiously positive, despite the growing revolt among Democrats.  It’s expected that the overwhelming majority if not nearly all House Republicans will vote in favor of the bill. That would require approval from only a few dozen Democratic representatives in order to reach a majority.

Meantime, the angriest of Democratic leaders are applying targeted pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to use procedural maneuvers to block the measure from even reaching the floor.



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